Fantasy crunch time isn't a great place to test out prospects, but it might be worth making an exception this August for a couple future stars.
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Xander Bogaerts, the top shortstop prospect in the minor leagues, and Travis d'Arnaud, the top catching prospect, are elite long-term talents who could impact fantasy leagues soon at notoriously weak positions.
Bogaerts' fantasy ownership shot up to 44 percent this week in CBS leagues, and he went for a princely sum of $15 in Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB) bidding. He is the most intriguing prospect in the minors, both near and long term, and he is getting time at third base to improve his versatility for the Red Sox down the stretch. The trade-deadline deal that sent Jose Iglesias out of town also opened up a need in Boston for another infielder between shortstop and third base. Brock Holt (.218) and Stephen Drew (.253) are hardly clogging up the positions enough to keep a talent like Bogaerts away.
The 20-year-old prodigy has enjoyed a breakthrough year, and he didn't stop hitting after he was promoted to Triple-A in June. Bogaerts has hit .291 with eight homers, 27 RBI, 25 runs, two steals, a .380 on-base percentage and a .476 slugging percentage in his 51 games with Pawtucket, upping his combined minor-league line to .301/14/62/65/7/.395/.490 in 107 games (408 at-bats). He is going to make a Manny Machado-like impact down the stretch for the Red Sox and fantasy owners.
Meanwhile, owners who have a need behind the plate should consider d'Arnaud. He is currently working his way back from a broken foot suffered in Double-A, and the retooling Mets will certainly want to get a look at him in the major leagues before this season is over. d'Arnaud might not head back to Triple-A Las Vegas before getting the call to New York.
D'Arnaud has gone just .259/2/16/18/0/.373/.471 in his 25 minor-league games this season, but the Mets likely want to see him work with Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler in CitiField before the pitchers' inning caps are reached.
While Bogaerts and d'Arnaud are on a tier of their own, St. Louis starter Michael Wacha is also worth monitoring. He will return to the Cardinals' rotation Saturday, and his talent makes him a sleeper for all fantasy leagues. Also, his innings total has been managed the past couple of months, so he should avoid a shut down.